It’s not every day that you come across a cyber security expert who is keen to ensure that young surfers know the Ps and Qs of safe-surfing and social networking. Enter the world of Rakshit Tandon, adviser for the cyber crime cell of Uttar Pradesh and consultant for the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Predicting whether your Facebook profile is vulnerable to hacking, or tracking down cyber bullies who tread the virtual world are all in a day’s work for him.
With Web 2.0 as the window to his realm, a strong fan following on his Facebook page comes as no surprise. Tandon explains why the population of young social network users need awareness on netiquette (etiquette on the Internet).
Tandon’s journey all started in 2004 when the techie, who was running his own software business in UP, was approached by the cyber crime cell to crack a case of a teenager who was being bullied on the Internet.
“I was able to track the offender within three hours. That’s when I realised that a lot of young children were making friends online without knowing that it could be a trap,” he says.
From then on, talking about the issue in neighbouring schools, advising the cyber crime redressal cell in UP, and solving cyber crime cases became part and parcel of his life, but reaching out to young minds remains his primary focus.
Ask him about the raging debate on the appropriate age for debuting on a social network and, he says, “In reality you take at least 20 minutes to consider someone your friend, but on social networking sites, all it takes is a click of a button.”
From cyber stalkers who befriend naïve netizens to track personal information and blackmail them, to cyber bullies who resort to virtual harassment, or hackers who indulge in photo morphing, the Internet is filled with numerous security threats. Staying ahead of the times is the safest way to face them.
Citing cases of students misusing social networking sites to take out grudges on friends and classmates without paying heed to stringent cyber laws, he says, “It is a serious offence. Children need to realise that if a certain type of behavior is unacceptable in real life, the same applies to virtual life.”
“Exercising simple options like the report abuse button, when you come across offensive photographs or profiles, can save a lot of trouble,” Tandon says.
“There is a lack of awareness about the Web 2.0 architecture. While online presence has become important to children, most use these sites without learning safety options,” he says.
Creating awareness on using the Internet judiciously among students is the need of the hour.
“They don’t have the courage to talk to their parents when they face problems online. Parents need to realise that cutting out their digital life is not the solution. Netiqette needs to be taught to them just like any other subject,” says Tandon.
Rakshit Tandon was in Chennai to address students of various schools as part of the safe surfing campaign launched by Opera Software and IAMAI. For more details on safe surfing contact firstname.lastname@example.org